There’s one thing all my favorite hunts have in common: interaction. Calling is one of my favorite tactics. Whether it’s hounding elk, turkeys or bears with calls, there isn’t much that can beat the rush of knowing you’ve tricked a mature animal. The wind, setup and calling has to be spot-on or a savvy animal will quickly realize this isn’t the real thing and bust. One approach that’s extremely helpful is to add some sort of decoy to your setup. This adds a visual confirmation to go along with the audio, bringing the animal to another level of confidence and hopefully into shooting range.
On an elk hunt this year, we decided to all bring out Montana cow elk decoys. We chose Montanas because we could fit several in our packs; we had a four-person group hunting at once, so it can be very challenging to keep everyone hidden without multiple decoys. Montana Decoys are really nice and easy to use because they simply fold up into a small circle and can be stuffed in your pack when you’re not using them. The second you need to deploy a Montana, just pull it out and it pops open—in this case, it quickly becomes a realistic-looking cow elk.
Some people might ask, It’s just a 2-dimensional decoy. How can it trick an elk? I had my doubts, too, but after this hunt I’m a believer.
I was hunting with a friend from college who’s an excellent elk caller and together we really got into the elk. We had bulls screaming all over, and of course it sure helps when you’ve hit the rut just right. The weather was cooperating, the elk were screaming, and the land where we were hunting was incredible. After calling-in several small bulls, we finally spotted a big, mature bull at more than 1,000 yards. We decided to get to work.
The bull was alone and we were confident this could be our chance. We all split up with our decoys and positioned ourselves so the bull could be called right past me. One of the most important parts of calling elk is to have the caller constantly moving while listening to where the bull is.
After what seemed like hours, the bull finally made his way right past me and stood broadside. As he got ready to let out yet another bugle, I put a shot right behind his shoulder using a .300 Win. Mag. Winchester Ballistic Silvertip bullet and he dropped within 20 yards.
It was an incredible hunt and a great way to share a week with an old friend from college. Plus, this was my biggest bull to date!